Acceptance Rate

How To Join A Federal Credit Union Near Me

Joining a credit union entails examining several programs, learning about membership requirements, and filling your account. Unlike banks, which are open to the public, credit unions may have membership requirements, limiting access.

Learn how to assess if a credit union is a suitable fit for you and how to join one.

The Key Takeaways

  • To join a credit union, you may need to meet membership requirements based on geography, occupation, education, associations, or other considerations.
  • You may be able to join a credit union by giving to a certain non-profit.
  • Credit union membership may provide perks such as competitive rates and minimal or no fees.
  • Limited membership opportunities, fewer branch locations, and fewer services and products are all potential disadvantages.

What Is a Credit Union?

Credit unions are non-profit institutions that offer savings and lending services. Unlike banks, credit unions are owned by account holders (members), hence they are motivated by member interest rather than profit.

Credit union checking or savings accounts are sometimes referred to as share accounts since they represent members’ financial stake in the business. Many credit union members have access to a network of over 30,000 ATMs located throughout the United States and Canada.

Co-op ATM Network.” Co-op Solutions.

Credit unions offer numerous fundamental financial capabilities, including person-to-person payments, online bill pay, mobile apps, and online banking

How to Join a Credit Union

Depending on the credit union’s requirements, joining could be simple or complicated. Here’s the basic procedure.

Step 1: Research Your Options

Determine what you want from a credit union, whether it is a branch near your house for easy in-person services or an online service with low rates.

Next, narrow your possibilities. Investopedia’s Best Credit Unions list can help you compare credit union offerings. If you frequently travel and wish to perform in-person transactions, you may benefit from joining a credit union participating in the nationwide CO-OP shared branch network of over 5,300 credit unions.

Step 2: Find Information About Membership Requirements.

Credit unions frequently have membership eligibility requirements, which means you can join or vote on leadership. Each credit union has distinct membership requirements. To learn more about membership, visit the credit union’s website.

Next, validate your eligibility to join the credit union. The credit union will explain the topic of membership standards, which could include factors such

  • Occupation: For example, a military member, a teacher, or someone who works for or has retired from a specific business
  • Association: Membership in a certain church, professional, civic, or fraternal organization, or labor union.
  • Education: Students or graduates from a specific college, university, or educational system
  • Family: Being related to a current member.
  • Region: Living, working, or going to school in a particular neighborhood or communities

Many credit unions provide an alternative way to join if you do not meet their requirements. For example, a credit union may allow anyone to join if they pay a nominal fee to become a member of a certain nonprofit organization. The credit union may pay the nonprofit organization a one-time membership fee ranging from $5 to $25 on your behalf, or you may be required to pay it yourself.

Step 3: Apply for Membership

You can often apply to join a credit union online, by mail, or in person. Make sure you have your legal name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and other pertinent information on hand.

You’ll normally have to provide:

  • Your Social Security or Taxpayer Identification Number
  • A driver’s license or passport are example of government-issued identification.
  • Proof of address, like a utility bill or a lease agreement.
  • Method for funding your new account (further details below)
  • Additional eligibility documents, like a wage stub or school transcript

When you seek to join a credit union, the credit union may do a soft credit check or an inquiry into your financial history via ChexSystems when you open your account, which will not affect your credit score.

If you have a poor banking history, find out ahead of time whether the credit union offers “fresh start” or “second chance” accounts, which give basic services while preventing overdraft costs. They may impose additional service costs, but you may be able to upgrade to a standard account following a probationary period.

Step 4: Make a Deposit

Choose the type of account you want to open (savings, checking, or certificate of deposit), and then make a deposit. Depending on the credit union, membership usually requires a minimum deposit of $5 to $25 for a savings or share account.

A credit union may mandate that you maintain a minimum balance in your savings account, such as $10, $50, or $100. To receive a particular savings rate, you may need to maintain a certain minimum amount.

Step 5: Read Your Account’s Disclosures and Agreement

Once you’ve joined the credit union, be sure you completely grasp the terms. Comparing terminology should have been part of your search for the proper credit union for you, but you should go over the terms again to ensure that you understand everything.

Fine-print disclosures might help you comprehend your new account and avoid unwanted fees. In particular, review your new accounts:

  • Fee Schedules
  • Privacy Policy
  • Overdraft Protection Policy and Opt-Out
  • An explanation of how dividends or interest-bearing accounts operate

Credit unions normally prioritize member relationships, yet they may nevertheless impose hidden levies and fees. Credit unions may levy fines for late credit card payments, but the typical amount is less than $25, compared to fees ranging from $36 to $40 at top credit card companies.


  • Competitive savings rates
  • Low borrowing rates
  • Benefits
  • Low or no fees
  • Competitive savings rates: Credit unions often provide better CD rates than banks.
  • Low borrowing rates: Credit unions usually offer reduced interest rates on credit cards, some mortgage products, and auto loans.
  • Benefits: Credit unions may give members discounts and/or cash back on services such as vehicle rentals, insurance, and online shopping.
  • Low or no fees: Credit unions usually do not impose maintenance fees and may not demand a minimum balance for checking accounts.


  • Membership Process
  • Limited locations and hours

Cons of Joining a Credit Union Explained

  • Membership process: Joining a credit union may need a membership process if the credit union’s membership base is limited.
  • Limited locations and hours: Credit unions may not have as many branches or ATMs as national banks, leading to increased reliance on phone or online transactions. You may also have difficulty finding an international CO-OP ATM.

How to Select a Credit Union.

First, confirm that the credit union you chose will accept you as a member. Then, assess whether it offers some or all of the following advantages:

  • Savings protection: Deposit insurance of up to $250,000 for savings and checking accounts.
  • ATM access: Access to the CO-OP ATM network and ATM charge rebates.
  • Fees: No or minimal monthly costs for services.
  • Checking accounts: No account minimums, and free checks.
  • Free financial planning: Budgeting, debt repayment, and other financial wellness services.
  • A mobile app: To check balances and make mobile check deposits
  • Tech integration: Easy methods for transferring funds and paying bills

Many potential members value a credit union’s dedication to community service, so check its annual report and donation history.

How To Join a Credit Union With Bad Credit

A low credit score is usually not a deal breaker when it comes to joining a credit union, as long as you complete the membership requirements. When you open a checking or savings account with a credit union, they typically do not check your credit score. However, they may request a copy of your ChexSystems report to review your previous deposit account behavior. Negative marks on your financial history may affect your eligibility.

While credit unions typically do not check your credit when you join, they will pull your credit record if you request a loan or line of credit later. If you’re concerned about your credit, visit and request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus.

What Credit Unions Can I Join?

The most basic approach to finding credit unions to join is to use the NCUA’s Credit Union Locator to look for choices near you. After you’ve identified a few alternatives, utilize the Locator’s companion tool, Research a Credit Union, to discover more about them. Then, visit each credit union’s website to find out what their membership requirements are and whether you qualify.

Many of the institutions on Forbes Advisor’s Best Credit Unions of 2024 list welcome anyone to join by opening a savings account and depositing $5 or paying a one-time fee.

Why Join a Credit Union?

While banks may be the more traditional option for many, credit unions provide a distinct set of perks that are frequently neglected. Consider the benefits of a credit union before deciding whether to join.

  • Community involvement. Credit unions typically invest in the community by supporting local companies, sponsoring events, and providing financial literacy programs. Joining a credit union helps to grow your local community.
  • Support for diversity and inclusion. The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions reports that credit unions have a higher proportion of minority depository institutions (MDIs) and female CEOs compared to banks.
  • Security. Joining a federally insured credit union provides NCUA insurance, which is equivalent to FDIC protection. In the unlikely event that your credit union fails, the NCUA will cover up to $250,000 in qualified deposits.
  • Financial education. Credit unions frequently provide free financial education tools, such as lectures and seminars, on themes like budgeting, saving, credit management, or investing.

Why Join a Credit Union Instead of a Bank?

Here are a few reasons why you might consider joining a credit union rather than a typical bank:

  • Lower fees.  Because credit unions are not for profit and are not required to pay dividends to shareholders, they can charge fewer and cheaper fees for services such as deposit accounts, withdrawals, and transfers.
  • Better interest rates.  Credit unions serve their members, not their investors, hence they often provide higher deposit rates and lower loan rates than banks. Credit unions are predicted to help members save more than $12.6 billion per year by delivering reduced fees and higher deposit returns.
  • Community focus.  Credit unions are frequently community-oriented, which means they offer more personalized services suited to their members’ requirements.
  • Membership benefits.  As a credit union member, you gain access to a variety of perks not available from traditional banks, such as discounts on financial products and services, financial education tools, and more liberal lending requirements.

What is a credit union’s field of membership?

A credit union’s field of membership outlines the categories of people it can accept as members. Each credit union will have its own designated membership. For example, one credit union may only accept members who live in a given county, whilst another may only accept members who work in certain occupations.

What’s the Difference Between a Private and a Federally Insured Credit Union?

Most credit unions are government-insured. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) insures member deposits of up to $250,000 for about 98% of federally insured credit unions. However, a limited percentage of credit union deposits are privately insured by a corporation named American Share Insurance (ASI). The credit union should explain how member deposits are insured, the amount of coverage, and how it operates.

What Is the Interest Rate on Credit Union Savings Accounts?

As of March 2023, the average interest rate for a standard savings account with a $2,500 balance was 0.16%, lower than at a bank, which averaged 0.28%. Consider credit union money market savings accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs), which typically offer more interest than banks.

In Conclusion

Joining a credit union can be beneficial if you want to take advantage of the credit union’s higher CD interest rates, reduced lending rates, and no-fee checking. However, joining a certain credit union can be difficult due to the possibility of membership restrictions.

If you want to join a credit union for outstanding savings rates or another purpose but do not fulfill the membership requirements, call to see if there is another way you might qualify.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button